Nevada governor’s new COVID-19 restrictions having minimal impact on poker

Jon Sofen
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Posted on: November 25, 2020 5:00 pm EST

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) recently imposed some tough restrictions in businesses statewide. But despite the capacity limitations the Democratic politician put in place, the live poker scene hasn’t been affected much.

Nevada’s COVID-19 cases have gotten out of control, much like in many other states. The Silver State currently has over 2,000 deaths and 140,000 cases of the coronavirus. In recent days, the case count has risen drastically, with more than 2,000 per day for nearly the past week. That far exceeds the previous single day record of just over 1,600.

As a result, the governor was forced to impose some new measures to help slow the spread of the virus. Earlier this week, he chose to limit capacity even further in Nevada businesses. Casinos and restaurants are now only permitted to operate at 25% of the maximum allowed capacity. So, if the normal maximum capacity for a restaurant is 1,000 patrons, they can now serve just 250 customers at a time.

Casinos must also operate within the same restrictions. But poker rooms are typically separate rooms within the casino, which means the head count inside the poker room is separate from the main casino floor.

Las Vegas has 31 poker rooms, but only 19 are currently in operation. Many of the card rooms decided to remain closed after the casinos were permitted to reopen in June. Among the 19 open poker rooms, few have made significant changes to operations since Sisolak’s new capacity restrictions went into place.

Live poker in Las Vegas still rolling

In some of the casinos, the poker room is operating based on the casino capacity restrictions. But in others, the room is considered separate from the main casino floor. In those cases, there are fewer poker tables available, which has limited the number of players able to get in a game.

But overall, the negative impact on live poker in Las Vegas has been minimal. Some poker rooms are simply making adjustments to operations so that they don’t have to get rid of tables and turn away customers. At The Orleans, for example, the main poker room is currently only spreading cash games. Daily tournaments have been moved to a separate area on the main casino floor outside the poker room. By making this adjustment, The Orleans can still spread its popular daily tournaments and keep plenty of cash games running without exceeding the 25% capacity limitations.

Venetian, on the other hand, is getting by on having such a large poker room. The current Venetian DeepStacks are still running despite the governor’s new restrictions. Like at The Orleans, some of the tournament tables have been moved to the main casino floor. But most games are staying inside the poker room, which is big enough to operate effectively with only 25% capacity.

Aria, however, has decided to suspend all daily tournaments until after the governor lifts the 25% restrictions. Sisolak announced the “pause” will last for at least three weeks. At that point, he will reevaluate things and determine if he’s ready to permit businesses to increase capacity or continue on the same path. Most experts anticipate the current restrictions will remain in place much longer given Nevada’s COVID-19 problems.

Featured image source: Flickr